OT: Going Han Solo on some Cuban Cigars

Submitted by Vader on July 19th, 2012 at 7:37 PM

I'm in Recife, Brazil for work for a couple of weeks and I'm looking to bring back some decently cheap Cubans. Anyone got any good advice/stories related to getting cuban cigars back into the US?



July 19th, 2012 at 7:44 PM ^

Umm....  Common myth:  Cigars are not better just because they're cubans.  In fact, the price on cubans is inflated because there are so many people who have this perception that they'll pay the higher price thinking "Oh! It's Cuban!" and automatically thinking it's somehow better.

These people are n00bz.  

If you *really* want a cuban, get a good one like a Cohiba (make sure it's a cuban Cohiba not the other kind)

If you don't wnat to shell out for a good one, then save your money.  For the price of a "cheap" cuban you could get a very good cigar from DR or elsewhere which will be just as good if not better than a cheap cuban.  A Fuente Opus X will be way better than a cheap Cuban.  So will an aurora Cien Anos or a Graycliffe. 

(Diclaimer: It's been awhile since I smoked cigars but I used to smoke a cigar 2-3 times per month).


July 19th, 2012 at 7:51 PM ^


I don't have experience with smuggling anything into the US from a foreign country - let alone cuban cigars - but my suspicion is if you're not bringing in a ton (like a whole box) then you should be fine.

But here's one thing I do know about transporting cigars - you need to be careful.  You don't want to stuff them in your luggage with your socks.  They need to be stored at a specific humidity (70%) and temperature (70 degrees) and are delicate.  So if you invest in cigars and want to take them back, also invest in a travel humidor.  

If you don't do this your cigars will likely be ruined by the time you get back home to the US.  You might just be better off smoking it there, then you don't have to worry about a humidor or customs.  


July 19th, 2012 at 11:16 PM ^

Because Bautista was a saint right? Or did you forget the part where Cuba aligned with the SU after we shot them down?


"I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country's policies during the Batista regime. I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will even go further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear."-JFK


July 19th, 2012 at 8:14 PM ^

Yeah I've gotten agricultural products back from Europe and Asia and haven't gotten asked about anything.  I think the key is in having the right look (clean), and not talking too much.  I saw the dogs for the first time this past fall and that made me worry a bit but I had no problems.  I think their training is pretty focused.

edit: Just realized this sounds like weed.  Not weed.

Blue in Yarmouth

July 20th, 2012 at 8:35 AM ^

I travel quite a bit and I am white. Ever since 9/11 when ever I go through airport security I get checked. I don't know if it is because I keep my head shaved bald or that I always keep a little stubble on my face, but I always get checked coming and going. I have no idea what it is, but something about my look give security the creeps I guess. I have asked them to explain why I always get checked and they say it's totally random but I have to call BS on that. 

Anyway, I know you were joking but I just wanted to let people know even soome white people get hassled by security. 


July 19th, 2012 at 11:30 PM ^

"Also, try to be white while going through customs.  It helps a lot." and then immediately posted, "In your butt".  Which sounds like you are advising the smuggler to be white in his butt, because it helps a lot when getting through customs.  

Am I the only one who noticed this and laughed out loud? 


July 20th, 2012 at 12:12 AM ^

Who smuggled an insulin pen in his butt so he could self-inject, purposefully cause hypoglycemia, and stay in the hospital longer to get pain meds. They seem like similar dimensions as a cigar. I believe in you.


July 19th, 2012 at 8:13 PM ^

What maizenbluedevil said about the quality is completely true.  Primarily due to the trade embargo with the United States the cigar industry in Cuba is not what it once was.  That being said if you go with quality like a Cuban Cohiba you will not be disappointed.  They were what I was going to recommend prior to reading everyone elses comments.  Now for the tricky part with customs.  The last time I was in South America was 2005 so my experience might be a little dated but when entering the United States the biggest concern with bringing in cigars is if they are banded or not.  If you don't want a hastle from customs ensure you take all the bands off the cigars prior to packaging them for travel.  When packaging for travel if you don't already have a travel humidor and are not otherwise in the market for one don't waste your money.  You can have an equal amount of success with a ziploc freezer bag.  The temperature difference you will experience while traveling will not be for a long enough time to make it matter and as long as you drop in an adequate amount of either humidification sticks or pillows which you should be able to purchase anywhere you purchase cigars you will be fine.  I hope this helps and if anybody has more current customs information than me please speak up.


July 19th, 2012 at 8:13 PM ^

I'd rather go Bill Clinton with my cigars, but that's just me. 

You should be fine just keeping them in your carry-on, I've done it several times without issue. As someone said above, get a travel humidor. If you're bringing a whole box back, I'd pack them in something else and remove the bands. 


July 19th, 2012 at 8:25 PM ^

Remove anything that identifies them as Cuban - ditch the box and the bands. At that point there is nothing to distinguish a Cuban from any other cigar. Also, agree with several others - they are not good just because they are Cuban, many of the finest smokes out there are from elsewhere. However, a legit quality Cuban (such as the real deal Cohibas noted above) can be very tasty, although also expensive.

You might want to check a cigar website to verify legit bands/boxes from counterfeits.


July 19th, 2012 at 8:35 PM ^

If the price of the cigar seems too good to be true, it (of course) is. It's not at all un-common for people/stores to put fake bands on cigars and Cuban in order to prey on American tourists. If you do decide to buy them find a reputable business to purchase them from, avoid anything too touristy. If you're not willing to pay a decent amount, there's no reason to get Cubans because you'll just be paying a premium for the country of origin.


Now, if you're looking to get some Cubans just for the novelty of it, go for it. If you're expecting them to be miles ahead of what you can get in the US, don't waste your time. Yeah, a good Cuban Cohiba or Montecristo will probably be great, but it's going to cost the same or (more likely) more than an equally good, if not better cigar from Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic.


As to sneaking them back into the US I have no suggestions. I know people who have had no problems at all, and I know people who have had them confiscated, more often than not people seemt to bring them back without too much trouble. Putting them in a checked bag seems to be the easiest way. However, you should know that maintaining good humidity and temperature is crucial to keeping the cigars in good quality (70 farenheit at 70% humidity is a good rule of thumb) and maintaining this in the cargo hold of an airplane is quite difficult. 


My advice? Buy a good Montecristo or Cohiba in Brazil and smoke them with a great cup of coffee. Then come back to the US and buy an Opus X or a good Padron (like the 1964 or 80th anniversario). Even better, find your local tobacconist and talk to him about what's good that he has in stock. [Time for a shameless plug->] If you're in Ann Arbor, come to Maison-Edwards and we'll get you situated.